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Assistant professor of social work receives Council on Social Work Education's Feminist Manuscript Award

Posted Nov. 7, 2016
Reported by: Laurie Anderson,

Rebecca Matthew
Rebecca Matthew

A research paper that examined the positive impact and potential of alternative childcare services has received the 2016 Feminist Manuscript Award. Rebecca Matthew, an assistant professor at the UGA School of Social Work, and Vanessa Bransburg, a cooperative development specialist at Democracy at Work Institute in San Diego, California, won for their paper “Democratizing caring labor: The promise of community-based, worker-owned childcare cooperatives.” The award is annually presented by the Council for Social Work Education’s Council on the Role and Status of Women in Social Work Education (also known as the Women's Council). The paper is in press at Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work.

“The paper addresses how and in what ways might we respond to the mounting ‘care deficit,’ in such a manner that the dignity and well-being of both recipient and care provider are prioritized,” the authors wrote in the paper’s abstract.

Utilizing feminist theory, the authors looked at the ways that society devalues caring labor in the marketplace. They argued that for-profit as well as traditional nonprofit entities are inadequately positioned – given market demands – to support both quality services and quality jobs.

Vanessa Bransburg
Vanessa Bransburg

The pair suggested that a “third way” might offer a better alternative. They presented a case study of the Beyond Care Childcare Cooperative (BCCC), a worker-owned cooperative that provides home-based childcare services to the Sunset Park community in Brooklyn, New York. Members – primarily under-documented Latinas – have been able to optimize their labor conditions while providing high-quality services.

Matthew and Bransburg noted that, after joining BCCC as worker-owners, “the women reported a 58 percent increase in hourly wages and significant improvements in their emotional and psychological well-being, self-esteem, confidence in advocating for their needs, and greater time with their own families.”

The worker-owned cooperative model’s emphasis on participatory democracy, equity, and solidarity, said Matthew and Bransburg, presents “a promising organizational form” that should be studied further as a possible model that prioritizes the dignity and well-being of both care recipient and provider.

The Feminist Manuscript Award recognizes innovative scholars who advance feminist knowledge as it pertains to social work theory, research, practice, policy and education. Since its creation in 1996, the award has encouraged critical examination of oppression, power, and privilege that challenges inequities.